The timeline of religion is a chronologicalcatalog of important and noteworthy religious events in prehistoric and modern times. This article reaches extensively into prehistoric times, as the bulk of the human religious experience is not relegated to written history. Written history is only approximately 5000 years old (the age of formal writing). A lack of written records is that much knowledge of prehistoric religion is derived from archaeological records, other indirect sources, and suppositions. Much of religious prehistory is subject to continued debate.
A commonly held marker for the dawn of religious belief and practice is with the advent of intentional burial marks, thus included in this section.
300th to 51st millennium BC[edit source | edit]
223,000 – 100,000 BCE
The earliest evidence of Hominids, such as Neanderthals and even Homo heidelbergensis, deliberately disposing of deceased individuals usually in funerary caches. The graves, located throughout Eurasia (e.g. the Pontnewydd Cave, Atapuerca Mountains, Qafzeh, Es Skhul, Krapina), are believed to represent the beginnings of ceremonial rites, although there is some debate about this. Neanderthals placed their deceased in simple graves with little or no concern for grave goods or markers; however, their graves occasionally appeared with limestone blocks in or on them, possibly an archaic form of grave marking. These practices were possibly the result of empathetic feelings towards fellow tribespeople, for example: an infant buried in the Dederiyeh Cave after its joints had disarticulated was placed with concern for the correct anatomical arrangement of its body parts.
In the area of present-day France and Belgium, Neanderthals begin defleshing their dead, possibly after a period of excarnation prior to burial.
The AurignacianLion man of the Hohlenstein Stadel, the oldest known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world and one of the oldest known sculptures in general, is made. The sculpture has also been interpreted as anthropomorphic, giving human characteristics to an animal, although it may have represented a deity.
All convincing evidence for Neanderthal burials ceases. Roughly coinciding with the time period of the Homo sapiens introduction to Europe and decline of the Neanderthals.
Individual skulls and/or long bones begin appearing heavily stained with red ochre and are separately buried. This practice may be the origins of sacred relics.
The oldest discovered "Venus figurines" appear in graves. Some are deliberately broken or repeatedly stabbed. Possibly representing murders of the men they are buried with or some other unknown social dynamic.
25,000 – 21,000 BCE
Clear examples of burials are present in Iberia, Wales, and Eastern Europe. All of these, also, incorporate the heavy use of red ochre. Additionally, various objects are being included in the graves (i.e. periwinkle shells, weighted clothing, dolls, possible drumsticks, mammoth ivory beads, fox teeth pendants, panoply of ivory artifacts, "baton" antlers, flint blades, etc.).
Noticeable burial activity resumes. Prior mortuary activity had either taken a less obvious form or contemporaries retained some of their burial knowledge in the absence of such activity; dozens of men, women, and children were being buried in the same caves which were used for burials 10,000 years beforehand. All these graves are delineated by the cave walls and large limestone blocks. The burials are very similar to each other and share a number of characteristics—ochre, shell and mammoth ivory jewellery—that go back thousands of years. Some burials are double, comprising an adult male with a juvenile male buried by his side. They are now appearing to take on the form of modern cemeteries. Old burials are commonly being redug and moved to make way for the new ones, with the older bones often being gathered and cached together. Large stones may have acted as grave markers. Pairs of ochred antlers are sometimes poles within the cave; this is compared to the modern practice of leaving flowers at one's grave.
100th to 34th century BCE[edit source | edit]
The Neolithic Revolution begins and results in a worldwide population explosion. The first cities, states, kingdoms, and organized religions begin to emerge. The early states were usually theocracies, in which the political power is justified by religious prestige.
9130 – 7370 BCE
The apparent lifespan of Göbekli Tepe, the oldest human-made place of worship yet discovered.
Four to five pine posts are erected near the eventual site of Stonehenge.
7500 – 5700 BCE
The settlements of Catalhoyuk develop as a likely spiritual center of Anatolia. Possibly practicing worship in communal shrines, its inhabitants leave behind numerous clay figurines and impressions of phallic, feminine, and hunting scenes.
Extent and major sites of the Indus Valley Civilization. The shaded area does not include recent excavations.
The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE) in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, Flourishing around the Indus River basin, the civilization extended east into the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley and the upper reaches Ganges-Yamuna Doab; it extended west to the Makran coast of Balochistan, north to northeastern Afghanistan and south to Daimabad in Maharashtra. The civilization was spread over some 1,260,000 km², making it the largest known ancient civilization. The Indus Valley is one of the world's earliest urban civilizations, along with its contemporaries, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. At its peak, the Indus Civilization may have had a population of well over five million. Inhabitants of the ancient Indus river valley developed new techniques in handicraft (carnelian products, seal carving) and metallurgy (copper, bronze, lead, and tin). The civilization is noted for its cities built of brick, roadside drainage system, and multistoried houses as well as for containing artifacts of early Hinduism.
The situation following the French Revolution, France and Pope Pius VII entered into the Concordat of 1801. While "Catholicism" regains some powers and becomes recognized as "...the religion of the great majority of the French", it's not reafforded the latitude it had enjoyed prior to the Revolution. It's not the official state religion, the Church relinquishes all claims to estate seized after 1790, the clergy is state salaried and must swear allegiance to the State, and religious freedom is maintained.
1819 – 1850
The life of Siyyid 'Alí Muḥammad Shírází (Persian: سيد علی محمد شیرازی) Bab (October 20, 1819 – July 9, 1850), the founder of Bábism.
The only Hindu Kingdom in the world, Nepal, is declared to be secular by its Constituent Assembly after declaring the state a Republic on 28 May 2008.
The Church of Scientologyin France is fined €600,000 and several of its leaders are fined and sentenced to jail for defrauding new recruits out of their savings. The state fails to disband the church due to legal changes occurring over the same time period.
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^Bowler, J.M. 1971. Pleistocene salinities and climatic change: Evidence from lakes and lunettes in southeastern Australia. In: Mulvaney, D.J. and Golson, J. (eds), Aboriginal Man and Environment in Australia. Canberra: Australian National University Press, pp. 47–65.
^Bowler JM, Johnston H, Olley JM, Prescott JR, Roberts RG, Shawcross W, Spooner NA. (2003). "New ages for human occupation and climatic change at Lake Mungo, Australia.". Nature421 (6925): 837–40. doi:10.1038/nature01383. PMID1259451.
^Olleya JM, Roberts RG, Yoshida H and Bowler JM (2006). "Single-grain optical dating of grave-infill associated with human burials at Lake Mungo, Australia". Quaternary Science Reviews25 (19–20): 2469–2474. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2005.07.022.
^N.S. Rajaram takes these dates at face value when he opines that "We have therefore overwhelming evidence showing that Krishna was a historical figure who must have lived within a century on either side of that date, i.e., in the 3200–3000 BC period".Prof. N. S. Rajaram (September 4, 1999). "Search for the Historical Krishna". www.swordoftruth.com. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
^The Bhagavata Purana (1.18.6), Vishnu Purana (5.38.8), and Brahma Purana (212.8) state that the day Krishna left the earth was the day that the Dvapara Yuga ended and the Kali Yuga began.
^See: Matchett, Freda, "The Puranas", p 139 and Yano, Michio, "Calendar, astrology and astronomy" in Flood, Gavin (Ed) (2003). Blackwell companion to Hinduism. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN0-631-21535-2
^Clifton, Chas (1998). "The Significance of Aradia". in Mario Pazzaglini. Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches, A New Translation. Blaine, Washington: Phoenix Publishing, Inc.. p. 73. ISBN 0-919345-34-4.
^Faculty of Catholic University of America, ed (1967). "Vatican Council II". New Catholic Encyclopedia. XIV (1 ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 563. OCLC 34184550.
^Alberigo, Giuseppe; Sherry, Matthew (2006). A Brief History of Vatican II. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. pp. 69. ISBN 1-57075-638-4.
^Hahnenberg, Edward (2007). A Concise Guide to the Documents of Vatican II. City: Saint Anthony Messenger Press. pp. 44. ISBN 0-86716-552-9.
^Alberigo, Giuseppe; Sherry, Matthew (2006). A Brief History of Vatican II. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. pp. 1. ISBN 1-57075-638-4.
^The Church of Satan: A History of the World's Most Notorious Religion by Blanche Barton (Hell's Kitchen Productions, 1990, ISBN 0-9623286-2-6)
^ abMcKay, George (1996) Senseless Acts of Beauty: Cultures of Resistance since the Sixties, ch.1 'The free festivals and fairs of Albion', ch. 2 two 'O life unlike to ours! Go for it! New Age travellers'. London: Verso. ISBN 1-85984-028-0
^Icelandic, "Hugmyndin að Ásatrúarfélaginu byggðist á trú á dulin öfl í landinu, í tengslum við mannfólkið sem skynjaði ekki þessa hluti til fulls nema einstöku menn. Það tengdist síðan þjóðlegum metnaði og löngun til að Íslendingar ættu sína trú, og ræktu hana ekki síður en innflutt trúarbrögð." Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson (1992:140).
^E. Szafarz, "The Legal Framework for Political Cooperation in Europe" in The Changing Political Structure of Europe: Aspects of International Law, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 0-7923-1379-8. p.221.
^"Bin Laden claims responsibility for 9/11". CBC News. October 29, 2004. Retrieved January 11, 2009. "Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden appeared in a new message aired on an Arabic TV station Friday night, for the first time claiming direct responsibility for the 2001 attacks against the United States."
^"911 Report chapter 7". U.S. Government Printing Office. "...While training at al Qaeda camps, a dozen of them heard Bin Ladin's speeches, volunteered to become suicide operatives, and eventually were selected as muscle hijackers for the planes operation. Khallad says he met a number of them at the Kandahar airport, where they were helping to provide extra security. He encouraged Bin Ladin to use them. Khallad claims to have been closest with Saeed al Ghamdi, whom he convinced to become a martyr and whom he asked to recruit a friend, Ahmed al Ghamdi, to the same cause. Although Khallad claims not to recall everyone from this group who was later chosen for the 9/11 operation..."
^"Bin Laden on tape: Attacks 'benefited Islam greatly'". CNN. December 14, 2001. Retrieved May 25, 2010. "Reveling in the details of the fatal attacks, bin Laden brags in Arabic that he knew about them beforehand and says the destruction went beyond his hopes. He says the attacks "benefited Islam greatly."
^Burke, Jason (2004). Al-Qaeda – The True Story of Radical Islam. London, New York: I.B. Tauris. 162–163. ISBN 1-85043-666-5.